A private contractor has tried to prevent a lawsuit challenging their role in the torture of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib a total of sixteen times.
Now, the lawsuit against CACI Premier Technology, filed 13 years ago, finally has a date for a trial after a federal judge denied another motion to dismiss.
The trial is scheduled for April 23, 2019, in Alexandria, Virginia.
“More than ten years passed for us to reach this point and achieve justice,” plaintiff Salah Al-Ejaili said. “We faced a lot of obstacles along the way that we had to surpass and we stayed patient because we wanted to win our right to equality in the law.”
Al Ejaili, an Iraqi and former reporter for al Jazeera, was detained at Abu Ghraib for about six weeks. When he arrived, he was allegedly forced to strip naked and put a bag on his head as personnel shouted at him to confess.
The first night al Ejaili was put in an orange jumpsuit and handcuffed to a pole with a bag over his head. He says he vomited a “black substance,” according to the lawsuit.
A woman allegedly came in during the night and touched him and pulled at his hair. He was ordered to clean up the vomit with his jumpsuit and then taken to a cell. After he tried to clean it, he complained that he was cold and had nothing to wear. A guard handed him ladies underwear.
Al Ejaili was allegedly interrogated at least ten times, two or three times a day.
“Each time, he was stripped naked, had a bag placed over his head, and was taken to an interrogation room,” the lawsuit states. “During the interrogations, he was often handcuffed to a pipe in the room and was beaten, punched, kicked, and slapped on the head. The interrogators also sometimes doused him with hot water, hot tea, or cold water.”
Al Ejaili further alleges that he was subjected to sleep deprivation and was denied food and water if he did not stay awake. He was chained naked to the wall, a bed, or bars of his cell. He was put in stress positions multiple times. Dogs were brought in at one point to terrorize him.
The Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents the Iraqis pursuing the lawsuit, stated in a press release, “Judge Leonie Brinkema’s rejection of CACI’s latest motions means that, nearly 15 years to the date when the world first saw the shocking photos of naked, hooded Iraqis stacked in human pyramids and subjected to horrific abuse, three of the original Abu Ghraib survivors in the case—Suhail Al Shimari, Asa’ad Al Zuba’e, and Salah Al-Ejaili—will finally be able to have their day in court.”
“They will be permitted to testify either live or by video link, representing a rare opportunity for the American public to hear directly from victims of this historic human rights atrocity,” CCR added.
Al Shimari, a farmer, was allegedly “forced to kneel on sharp stones” and “punched all over his face,” after he was brought to Abu Ghraib. The sharp rocks made it so he can no longer stand for “extended periods of time.”
The lawsuit claims he endured beatings and was forced to stand in stress positions. He suffered abuse for forty days, with guards deploying dogs against him. Loud music was played, and he was doused with water.
Guards allegedly connected him to electric equipment called a “lie detector” and shocked him. They tied a rope around his neck to drag him around. Guards inserted fingers in his rectum, and even beat him in his genitals so severely he could no longer have children.
As CCR points out, “U.S. military investigators long ago concluded that CACI interrogators conspired with U.S. soldiers, who were later court-martialed, to ‘soften up’ detainees for interrogations. A U.S. Army general referred to the treatment as ‘sadistic, blatant, and wanton.'”
“A number of low-level military officers were court-martialed over their roles in the abuse, but CACI has gone unpunished and continues to reap millions of dollars in government contracts.”